We went to this restaurant last year, and we liked it so much and had such a good time, that when we were planning where to go in our next visit to Valencia, this was top of our list!
Things hadn’t changed much since the last time—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as we frequently say in software engineering circles… before changing our mind and rewriting the whole #$%^*&$ thing 😂.
Thus there were some transparent screens separating the tables, and maybe the little stool for leaving your bag on was a new thing too, but nothing much…
On my side, since I wanted…
- to talk about this restaurant and recommend it to everyone who likes to eat and drink nice things, and
- to keep improving on my wine pairings
… I TOOK NOTES OF (almost) EVERYTHING!!
It is a bit hard to remember everything they’re telling you about the food and drink, so you try to also take notes… which is at points hard to balance with also eating and drinking!
You go to the restaurant to enjoy a lunch, not to listen to a lecture, if you know what I mean.
So I inevitably I missed some things, but I tried to reconstruct them using their wine list and doing my best guesses. So if a description or a pairing does not make sense, it’s entirely my “bad” for enjoying my lunch 😎
And without further ado, this is roughly what we ate and drank:
Amuse-bouches & apéritif
To start with, I had a Carmeleta Orange vermouth, “the only vermouth in the world with orange, roots, young leaves and orange blossom from Valencia”, as described in the menu.
It was nice and certainly very orange-y, but having tried it I think I like herbal vermouths more… 🧐
We also got some house bread.
🥖🕵🏻♀️ My “bread detective” skills told me it was not sourdough but yeasted, and it was not just white flour; it had some sort of nuttiness and wholeness to it. The waiter confirmed this, however I can’t quite recall what he said it was, maybe spelt or kamut!
It was perfectly edible and enjoyable, but I have a problem of my own doing: after baking so many breads myself I can’t but see the “defects” in bread! Mind you, someone who doesn’t bake bread would not notice. But I couldn’t stop thinking that it was way more compact than I would have liked.
I even started to speculate about how much longer it would need to proof so it would have time to open up and be baked in time for the restaurant’s first shift, etc… Bread logistics: they’re hard when you have a small kitchen and a restaurant to run.
But let’s move on to the amuse-bouches proper!
This thing on a puffy cracker with an olive was delicious; it melted in your mouth and was fishy and salty and the best thing to start lunching. Also: have you seen that pretty dish? 😍
We then got this cold soup of celery, tomato and watermelon. Really flavourful and such great combination of flavours (I also love the crockery—clean and geometric).
They were paired with a Verdejo wine—maybe “Cucú cantaba la rana” from Bodegas Barco Rueda (D.O. Rueda, in Castile and León).
Valencian mussel with chicken broth
Would have I thought of this combination? Probably not in my life. Did it work? Astonishingly so. The broth was salty enough to remind you of salt water; the mussels were very happy to be eaten.
It was also paired with “Beberás de la copa de tu hermana”, from one of my favourite Valencian wineries, Fil·loxera y cía. They produce really original wines, I think almost always unfiltered, with grapes from small parcels and frequently with a touch of skin contact, so they have a slight “funk” to them that you don’t find in more classical style wines.
And it worked so well with the mussel & chicken!
Grapes: 35% Macabeo (Viura), 45% Malvasía, Verdil (Merseguera), Monastrell (Mourvèdre)
Tuna, tomato and roasted pepper
Playing the “various types of tomato at once” card that we have seen in other restaurants recently, and really effectively at that, with the tuna and red pepper. Refreshing and delicious!
Paired with “La cabra y El Monte”, from Ribera del Duero.
Grapes: Albillo Mayor.
Shrimp, alficòs, peach, sage
This was so certainly not something we would normally eat.
To start with, the alficòs, as a vegetable, was sufficiently obscure that I did not remember having seen it in my life. The waiter explained it was typically consumed in the area but it was a bit of a “lost art” nowadays. And my own research tells me that although it’s called “Armenian cucumber” in English, it is actually a type of melon. And it worked so well with the shrimps; the sage was just the extra herbaceous tone that it needed.
This was paired with one of those petrol-smelling Rieslings that both confuse and enthuse me at the same time. I didn’t get to see the label, but looking at their wine list, it was maybe the biodynamic “Hiener Sauer Burrwieler” from Pfalz in Germany (strange that it is petrol smelling for a German Riesling, as that tends to be more typical of Australian Rieslings, I think).
Later, I asked my mother about alficòs and she confirmed it was “one of those things that people used to grow in their allotments” and she hasn’t seen one in many years. So it does sound obscure and remote indeed!
The restaurant’s twitter account says they grow their own alficòs in Marxuquera, which is just outside of Gandía, in the coast.
Anchovy, roasted aubergine, pepper on coca de dacsa
I did enjoy these flavours so much. The bread —the coca— was perfect as vehicle for this parcel of summer. Substantial enough that it wouldn’t collapse as you lift it from the plate, but also allowing itself to be bitten and cut into as you enjoy the succession of flavours marching down your tongue.
Although I did not eat the stalks of the peppers. Whose idea was it to keep them? No!
Paired with “Trenzado” from Orotava in the Canary Islands.
Grapes: 90% listán blanco, 6% Pedro Ximénez, 4% Virueño.
Hake with courgette
This was gentle and subtle.
Paired with a sherry, which was such a good idea: “Tío Diego Amontillado”.
Grapes: Palomino fino.
Meat with two mojos (verde y picón)
This delicious meat was accompanied by some delicious young potatoes and two types of mojos (sauces), a green (mojo verde) and a red one (mojo picón). These sauces are also typical of the Canary Islands.
Paired with “Pagos de Matanegra”, from Ribera del Duero — we did need something strong to stand up to the strong flavours in this dish!
Grapes: Tinta fina (Alicante Henri Bouschet)
Now onto my favourite part of a restaurant visit… the desserts!
Basil granita, with coconut and pineapple ice cream
We started with this refreshing combination that also acted as a sort of palate cleanser. Quite welcome after the intense previous dish! And also, three of my favourite flavours together (which, again, I would not have thought of combining, except for the coconut and pineapple, I guess).
It was very pretty. Here’s a close up, because I really liked the leaf.
This was paired with “Recóndita Armonía”, a sweet wine from Bodegas Gutiérrez de la Vega in Alicante.
And now for the 💥BOMB💥 which was the…
💣 Mole, sweet corn and chocolate ice cream 💣
That was The Best Thing!
I am obviously biased to like this, as I LOVE sweet corn, but this was great (and something that, for the n-th time, I would have never thought of, so it was like an unexpected but pleasantly welcome food surprise). The combination of savoury and sweet and the different textures made it so interesting, much better than just eating a “blob” of ice cream.
I could have had another portion. Or two, since they aren’t that big 😌
But I actually ended up having a glass of Tokaji 5 puttonyos from Tokaj-Oremus that was incredibly well balanced between sweet, aromatic and acid, and overall lovely. I would probably have had another one of those, but I managed to restrain myself.
Gotta have an excuse to come back… 😏
I really, really like this restaurant.
The highly seasonal food, with its fresh ingredients, and the mix of Valencian with all sorts of other Spanish food influences is delicious, subtle and surprising. The pairings worked fabulously too.
To wrap it off, its relaxed-casual atmosphere is quite sedate even if there’s a lot of activity happening in the (open) kitchen. The service is simply excellent, so nice and welcoming.
In short, we feel so comfortable and at ease there and always have a good time! 🙂
If you’re in Valencia, I’d totally recommend you visit this restaurant. We will be back as soon as we can too!
Pintor Salvador Abril, 28
46006 Valencia (Spain)